I was initially admitted to the U.S. as a student in F-1 status to attend School A. My visa was issued based on that school’s I-20 form. …01 Apr 2016
… Before I came to the U.S., I applied to and was admitted to several universities, including School B. I decided to transfer to School B shortly after I arrived in the U.S., since I already had admission there. I talked to the DSO at School A and told her that I wanted to transfer. She instructed me that, as long as I had admission to School B and their program starts within 30 days of the date I came to the U.S., I was eligible for transfer without enrolling in classes at School A. I processed my transfer and completed my program at School B.
I recently applied for optional practical training (OPT) and the USCIS issued an RFE, asking me to show that I took classes full-time at School A before my transfer to School B. Since I transferred shortly after arrival in the U.S. and never even registered for classes at School A, was my transfer improper?
For a long time, the transfer procedures for newly arrived students, who never enrolled in classes at the school that was noted on their F-1 visas, were well established and commonly used. Such procedures are authorized and described in the SEVP FAQ. However, the USCIS appears to have a different interpretation of the regulation on F-1 transfers, requiring that the student first be enrolled in classes and maintaining a full courseload, before becoming eligible for transfer. It is not very clear what final position the USCIS will take, given these two conflicting interpretations. (01.Apr.2016)
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